Community Marketing
XX min read

7 Successful Community Marketing Examples

Published on
February 9, 2024
Building a strong brand community is key to ensuring the success of your business. See highly successful community marketing examples here.

No matter how much we enjoy our own company, no one can really go through life alone. Community is an essential part of the human experience, and a critical piece of our psychological makeup. In the marketing world, businesses have long understood the power of community to turn everyday customers into brand advocates and influencers.

Dedicated community marketing strategies leverage social connection and interpersonal influence to improve brand loyalty, build community, and deepen relationships with both existing and potential customers. In this post, we’ll explore seven successful community marketing examples and learn how world-renowned brand initiatives made community the centerpiece of their social media marketing strategies.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Community marketing helps brands increase brand awareness, boost sales, and invite UGC
  • The world’s most recognizable brands have mastered the art of community marketing
  • With the right tools, businesses of any size can implement community marketing initiatives

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What Is Community Marketing?

Community marketing is a growth strategy that focuses on bringing your target audience together and engaging them about topics that are relevant to your brand. Even though the end goal of community marketing is to increase brand awareness and deepen brand loyalty, the focus should always be on the customers. How can your brand genuinely help your audience achieve their dreams? Successful community marketing can absolutely drive sales and increase revenue, but brands should be committed to providing value to your audience regardless of whether or not they’ve made a purchase.

Building a thriving brand community takes dedicated effort, though. Whether you set up a Facebook group where loyal customers can connect in real-time, gather your most dedicated followers at in-person events, or encourage creativity and invite input from budding entrepreneurs, successful community building turns a group of people with a shared interest into a dedicated digital marketing machine.

Here are just a few of the most important benefits of community marketing: 

  • Reduce expenses: While advertising costs have risen steadily over the past five years, community marketing keeps businesses’ costs low while still achieving impressive results. The main investment is strategic, compared to the pay-to-play world of traditional advertising methods.
  • Increase customer loyalty: Building a direct connection with consumers and encouraging two-way engagement helps ensure they’ll stick with you for the long haul. The more invested they are in your brand, the more likely they are to go from one-time buyers to repeat customers, and even brand advocates.
  • Collect valuable feedback: When you cultivate a thriving brand community, your customers will feel empowered to share their honest opinions with you. Businesses that learn from negative feedback as much as they celebrate the positive will be poised to achieve meaningful long-term growth.
  • Boost brand relevance: There’s no better way to understand your customers desires and expectations than through social listening. Brands can harness actionable community insights to introduce new product lines, update their offerings, and generally surprise and delight consumers.
  • Improve brand perception: Many modern consumers are suspicious of traditional advertising methods; 96% of consumers don’t trust ads, according to Inc. Magazine. Instead, consumers look to social proof in today’s digital age. They trust recommendations from friends, family, and peers most of all.

7 Great Examples of Successful Community Marketing

Taking the biggest companies in the world as templates for successful community marketing is a great way to learn about best practices and possible approaches. Let’s explore how these global brands leverage community:

#1: Apple

Apple has always understood the power of community. Building a modern product ecosystem of beautiful and intuitive technologies that sync seamlessly to make the user’s life easier is a surefire way to turn one-time buyers into long-term loyal customers. Instead of letting its cult following languish in isolation, Apple is constantly working to turn its audience into a full-fledged brand community. The brand encourages customers to engage in creative and exciting ways, including showing off what they can do with Apple products. 

The #ShotoniPhone marketing campaign, for example, turned negative reviews of Apple’s smartphone camera technology into a user-generated content machine. By promoting photos and videos captured by real life Apple customers in global advertising media, the brand demonstrated that the power of Apple products is realized in the hands of its community. Apple also showed that they’re willing to listen to feedback and committed to giving consumers what they want: world-class camera tech that’s better than any iPhone before. 

Other community engagement opportunities are generated organically by customers; it seems like every time a new iPhone is released, lines form around the block at Apple stores around the world. Coming together offline is an important way for a brand’s most loyal fans to truly experience the benefits of community and feel validated, supported, and celebrated in their passion.

#2: GoPro

Considering GoPro makes action cameras, it’s no surprise that the brand has succeeded in building a community of passionate and adventurous photographers. Its award-winning community marketing programs celebrate the GoPro Family and all the incredible footage they capture using GoPro’s camera technology, video editing software, etc. User-generated content fuels GoPro’s word-of-mouth community marketing engine, expanding the brand’s reach, attracting new customers, and increasing customer retention organically through Instagram, arguably the most visual of today’s social media platforms. 

Members of the GoPro community are rewarded with reposts, introducing their high-octane videos and breathtaking still photography to millions of people all around the world. For the athletes and adventurers engaged in the GoPro lifestyle, connecting with other content creators in that way is both a thrill and an honor. At the same time, GoPro has inspired an endless stream of user-generated content that it has successfully leveraged to increase its audience and further deepen its community relationships. In 2018 alone, GoPro used specific content challenges and the brand name hashtag to grow its Instagram following from 1.3 million to 16.7 million users.

#3: Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson is one of the renowned brands that has given its community a name: the Harley Owners Group, or, of course, HOG. Members get subscriptions to Harley’s lifestyle magazine, free access to the Harley museum, and even cool perks like Harley Davidson merchandise. Ride-specific benefits of HOG membership include roadside assistance, priority customer support, and a loyalty program based on miles ridden on a Harley bike and dollars spent in the Harley store. Local community chapters bring HOG members together for offline and in-person meetups, and riding events get them out on the road earning points they can later cash in for Harley Davidson rewards.

Unlike other brands on this list, Harley Davidson’s approach to community marketing is a case study in the tiered membership model, as opposed to focusing on free organic content. The hope is that financial buy-in increases members’ commitment to the group, making their investment active instead of passive and encouraging more frequent and meaningful engagement with the brand. At the same time, it also introduces a clear and steady source of revenue for Harley Davidson through the annual membership fee.

#4: Lego 

Lego has fans of all ages all over the world. From the kids who treat Lego sets like toys to the collectors who turn them into a full-time hobby, the company has broad appeal and decades of experience building community. Thanks to Lego Ideas, the block-loving community has an online portal where they can connect with like-minded fans, ask questions, and learn techniques. One of the most popular features of the community hub is the chance to submit designs for a chance to be considered as an official Lego release (and earn 1% of royalties if the set is produced and sold). Other Lego Ideas community members vote on the submissions they like most before they ever get to Lego’s official judging staff.

Millions of Lego fans have already joined the brand community, relishing in the opportunity to connect with other people about a shared interest and stay at the forefront of the conversation through online forums. The Lego brand comes away with a virtually free and endless stream of ideas feeding into its product development department, complete with self-selecting review layers and built in market research machines that push the most promising and popular concepts to the top of the pack.

#5: Lululemon

Like GoPro and its community of adventurers, Lululemon has tapped into an audience of health, wellness, and fitness enthusiasts. From yoga to running and hardcore trainers to weekend warriors, all kinds of people connect with Lululemon’s activewear and accessories. And considering the popularity of athleisure in the fashion world, Lululemon’s community expands beyond the language of athleticism to be truly inclusive of anyone who wants to join in the fun. Hashtags like #thesweatlife focus on the lifestyle that Lululemon fans aspire to instead of centering the brand name, while encouraging community members to show off their latest and greatest Lululemon fits on social media. 

In addition to its online community activities, Lululemon has also leveraged in-person activations, bringing its community together to socialize and get moving through fitness events, yoga classes, and even festivals. The Lululemon Ambassadors program serves an even more dedicated tier of community members, offering test products, exclusive experiences, personal development opportunities, and network with other fitness enthusiasts. As a result of these marketing efforts, Lululemon unlocks the opportunity to build deep, lasting relationships with high-value influencers that can help spread Lululemon brand awareness among their own overlapping communities.

#6: Sephora

Sephora aims to be a one-stop shop for everything you need in the wild world of beauty. From skincare to haircare and makeup to fragrances, the best-known beauty brand has brick and mortar stores all over the world (plus a thriving ecommerce business). While Sephora was already known for staffing helpful beauty experts that could guide any customer to the product of their dreams, the launch of the Beauty Insider community in 2017 took the brand’s authoritative position over the edge. Beauty Insiders connect with other enthusiasts in the forums, ask questions, join challenges, and even try out new products.

The power of a strong brand community is evident in the Beauty Insider forum, where over 6 million members have posted over 2 million times. Badges add an element of gamification, encouraging members to participate in the community by posting, commenting, sharing, and more. The Beauty Insider community also dovetails with Sephora’s loyalty program, which lets customers earn points every time they shop, on birthdays, and during special promotional periods. This user-generated content is largely in text form, compared to tagged posts on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, but reviews, testimonials, and product feedback are equally as valuable for Sephora and the 300+ brands whose products it stocks around the world.

#7: Starbucks

Starbucks is synonymous with coffee in today’s business world. The brand’s community is composed of dedicated fans rather than repeat customers; they take great pride in their everyday orders, count down the days to their favorite seasonal releases, and are on a first-name basis with their local baristas (aka Starbucks partners). Starbucks activates its community in several ways, starting primarily with a branded rewards program. The Starbucks app displays personalized recommendations and relevant offers based on each individual user’s past order history, and customers earn stars for every dollar they spend at Starbucks locations. Rewards like coffee upgrades, snacks, drinks, and even Starbucks merchandise incentivize customers to shop more and rack up stars as quickly as possible.

Other community marketing programs include the annual #RedCupContest, encouraging customers to post about how they enjoy their winter drinks and get cozy in the cold season for a chance to win Starbucks gift cards. The #WhiteCupContest is a year-round affair encouraging artists to design their own patterns for a chance to have their creations turned into ceramic mugs sold on Starbucks shelves. In both instances, Starbucks unlocks opportunities for customers to get creative and connect with like-minded fans of the brand. Meanwhile, Starbucks earns a steady stream of user-generated content, encourages brand mentions and buzz about the company, and even creates product development opportunities thanks to its community’s creative efforts.

Ready to Launch Your Own Community Marketing Strategy?

It helps to learn from the biggest players in the business world, but you don’t have to be an international corporation or have a globally recognized brand name to make community marketing work for you. From early-stage startups to small businesses in the ecommerce space, any brand can be effective with community marketing if you take the time to invest in connecting with your audience.

That’s where Archive can help. Archive is an all-in-one platform that drives results by getting rid of all the manual parts of community and influencer marketing. We automatically collect all the UGC your brand is tagged in on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok. UGC management, social listening, and reporting features help you build the precise workflows you need to run a unique, successful, high-growth influencer program. And AI-powered tools like Super Search, Shoppable UGC Feed, and Archive GPT are there to take your program to the next level whenever you’re ready. Turn your social networks into a fully fledged brand community with Archive; Get started for free today.

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